Ruth Dayan founder of Maskit, a social peace activist and fashion designer is a legendry woman to remember and pay tribute to who died in February 2021 at the age of 103 just one month before her 104th birthday. She was born in 1917 in the coastal city of Haifa when what is now Israel was part of the collapsing Ottoman Empire.
She as an active promoter of peace is mainly known for supporting charitable welfare causes. Her designs were inspired by the cultural heritage of Jewish immigrants and Israel’s Arab community. Ms Dayan was an active promoter of peace with the Palestinians also.
In 1948, she was assigned to teach farm skills to new Jewish immigrants. She observes the delicate lacework immigrants had brought with them, a traditional craft used to make their wedding trousseaus. It gave Ms Dayan the idea that their handiwork might be a better source of revenue than farming. By the mid-50s, Ms Dayan’s government sponsored craft program had turned into a government sponsored fashion brand. She called it Maskit. Maskit is a Hebrew word for, among other things, jewel.
She founded the Maskit fashion house in 1954, enthused by Israel’s Arab community fine thread work as well as Jewish immigrants’ cultural inheritance. Ruth Dayan’s Brand, Maskit collaborated with Givenchy, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). Maskit’s coats were worn by Audrey Hepburn.
She was married to one of the country’s most revered generals but later divorced. Ruth Dayan was the first wife of Moshe Dayan famously known as one-eyed commander. He led forces during Israel’s 1948 war of independence and was also defence minister during the 1967 war when it rapidly defeated its Arab neighbours. Ruth and Moshe were married from 1935 until their divorce in 1971. The couple had three children together.
Her fashion house expressed her passion for social justice and ideals by employing the artisanal traditions of Jewish immigrants and Arabs. She was born less than eight months before one of the most unifying moments in modern Jewish history and that impact her whole life.
Her entire life covers the sentimental and inspirational story of Jewish people coming to their eternal homeland with dreams and hope of a democratic and egalitarian society for Israel’s inhabitants, Jews and Arabs alike. She was firmed to the commitment to coexistence.
She was a vigorous contributor in making her visualization of the dream into a reality. Ruth’s ideals and vision brought about transformative change in Israeli society through her service to a liberal ideal and her sense of duty.
She was an outstanding woman and a role model for entrepreneurs, who had boundless love for her place and its people. She practised social entrepreneurship through her fashion sense and design that changed the world.
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